Monday, November 5, 2007

Democrats, Party of the Rich

There's an interesting article in today's London Financial Times--that in the United States, the Democrat party is now the party of the rich, not the Republicans.

Democrats now control the majority of the nation's wealthiest congressional jurisdictions. More than half of the wealthiest households are concentrated in the 18 states where Democrats control both Senate seats.

This new political demography holds true in the House of Representatives, where the leadership of each party hails from different worlds. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, represents one of America's wealthiest regions. Her San Francisco district has more than 43,700 high-end households. Fewer than 7,000 households in the western Ohio district of House Republican leader John Boehner enjoy this level of affluence.


Democratic politicians prosper in areas of concentrated wealth even in staunchly Republican states such as Georgia, Kansas and Utah. Liberal congressman John Lewis represents more than 27,500 high-income households in his Atlanta district. The trend achievePublish Posts perfect symmetry in Iowa. There, the three wealthiest districts send Democrats to Washington; the two poorest are safe Republican seats.

Sounds kind of like Canada, where the Liberals are the party of big business and affluent professionals.

Supply and Demand

Dan Leger writes a worthy column in today's Chronicle Herald. I hope Nova Scotians are paying attention. His message is that we've got to back out of the "private financing" is bad mentality, something that New Brunswick is easing out of and now gives them success.

Leger is right to lampoon this province for having no evident economic growth principle beyond demanding more money from Ottawa. Do we have no shame? Even if it was our money that seeded the growth of the West, where's the pride in taking money off them now with no end in sight?

Increased equalization may give us a fleeting sense of triumph when in the long run it really only solidifies in our souls a "can't do it but for them" mindset. In fact to answer Leger's question, I fear that has become the defining principle of economic growth in our fair province. We must shake it loose.

Where is the spirit of those of our ancestors who founded Canada? They didn't demand money from government, either local or European as if it were an entitlement. Individuals built up the economy on their own in one of the toughest locations on the continent. And now, we've grown so dependent on the state that we've forgotten that.

I take issue with Leger's statement that government should partner with business though, because that's a recipe for corruption and disaster. Government should in fact be a bystander. It should get out of the hair of businesses who are working to create wealth by keeping taxes low and regulations to a minimum.

Enterprise oriented individuals may complain about Rodney MacDonald's equalization pandering and old style business subsidizing, but he will only stake out so much political capital on taking the province where it doesn't want to go. Unless we get more demands like Leger's, the Premier won't free the market.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Crime in Halifax

The Sunday Chronicle Herald online edition has four stories, all on crime in Halifax. Two articles reflect on the murder of US Sailor Damon Crooks one year ago, another is on a man arrested for assaulting a woman on a street corner, and fourth is on a man who was robbed for refusing to buy drugs.

This is more than just a policing issue. After all, a 2006 government fact sheet says Halifax has a higher than national average number of police per capita, 190 per 100,000 citizens. Something is seriously wrong with the culture of Halifax. How did it become so anti-social, so disrespectful for law and life, so un-Nova Scotian?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Wealth Creation Equals Poverty Reduction

In today's Chronicle Herald, Ralph Surette swoons over recent statements by the UN special envoy to housing and concludes that more forced wealth redistribution would help Nova Scotia. Surette notes that tax-cutting and privatizing has prevailed in Canada over the last two decades. Unfortunately, he fails to connect those measures with Canada and "all its wealth" that he approvingly cites from the envoy.

It's old style thinking from people like Surette that keep our province poor. He wants Nova Scotians to be dependent on the state and dependent on Western cash. After all, "poverty reduction" is just a code for state seizure of property as if we are slaves whose belongings can be taken from us at any time.

In Surette's world, a province already as poor as Nova Scotia would jack up welfare payments, luring more vulnerable citizens into dependency, and jack up taxes, driving more capital to the West. He'd finance this all by taking more money from the West, making us all helpless without their contributions. Sure enough, this province will stay poor and he'd wonder why.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Stephen Harper (a former economist) understands that the best form of poverty reduction is wealth creation. Wealth is not a fixed commodity--it can be created. Does Surette know this? Knowing journalists, he's probably not well versed in either economics or math. To create wealth, the right conditions must be laid, because wealth creators can pack up and move.

Premier Rodney MacDonald, a nice fellow though no economist, finally seems to have caught on to this. He still practices old fashioned business subsidizing, but he is sincere enough to be improving business conditions and busy attracting businesses to Nova Scotia. Of course, the reason he has to try so hard is that business conditions are lousy. (If you were a business owner would you freely choose this jurisdiction out of all the others in Canada to set up shop? Didn't think so.)

Nova Scotia's per capita GDP is less than half that of Alberta's so in fact we're pretty much all poor; we all need poverty reduction. And businesses, with that thing they provide called jobs, are the best way to do that. Lets stop giving them reasons to not start and thrive out here.

Perhaps some wealth redistribution is justified, but let's be real about this: there must be wealth to redistribute in the first place. You can't scare it all away and then demand that it be there to pass around.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Power Struggle: Towns vs Province

Let towns buy power from outside Nova Scotia Power! The story of centralized government imposing its will on local government continues. The mayor of Lunenberg and six other municipalities are waiting for the province to ok a purchase outside of the province's monopoly power (cash) source.

Energy Minister Bill Dooks has stalled on this for some time now and hopes to have it resolved by the end of the year. End of the year is too long. Why must people be held to the whims of a centralized government? Keep decisions local!

When a town chooses something, only its citizens are subjugated. When a province chooses something, hundreds of thousands are voiceless, often with no hope to sway the bigwigs in Halifax. Of course, the town of Lunenberg might be angling itself for a boneheaded decision for its people, but they should be free to choose so.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Government Price Fixing

Gas regulation in Nova Scotia costs the province $10 million more dollars than necessary. All for the sake of stability. Assuming 500,000 drivers, that's $20 a piece. I would trade some instability for $20.

If only there were a way for people to choose between regulated and unregulated gas price stations. Give people the freedom to choose. That wouldn't happen though, because people would always choose the cheaper of the two or perhaps all the stations would become unregulated. And the government can't have us going around their monopoly. For some reason price fixing by government is ok. "For our own good" they say. Even if a minority doesn't want it. Too bad, minority.

Service Nova Scotia Minister Jamie Muir says he can find no compelling reason to get rid of regulation. I guess "not being authoritarian" isn't compelling enough.

To What Degree Will Bulb Ban Affect Warming?

The ban on incandescent lightbulbs is another useless political scheme that will do nothing to stop global warming. Voters who support this are either authoritarian minded control freaks who want to impose their morality on others or are lobbyists working for the fluorescent light industry.

First, nobody has yet to tell us what affect this authoritarianism will have on the climate. We are told it will save electricity, and it undoubtedly will. Fluorescent bulbs generate more lumens per watt, meaning less wattage is required for the same amount of light. So what's the connection between fewer watts and climate change?

Well, it turns out the government wants us to use less power because power is generated from CO2 spewing coal burning generating stations. The idea is that less coal will be burnt because less power will be needed. In that case, why do we burn coal at all?! If we want to limit CO2, then why not simply go to the source? Power consumption is not what we should be concerned about. What we should be concerned about is green house gas emissions. As long as those coal plants are still burning away, these controls on our behaviour are just illusory fixes.

Finally, why isn't anyone being honest about what effect this will have on climate change. Will this lower ocean levels by 0.001mm or will it lower the temperature by 0.00000001 degrees? Tell us what difference it makes so we can judge for ourselves whether it's worth it. What a scam.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Blame Canada

Why are Canadians so tolerant of foreign forces that torture prisoners? As with the Maher Arar case in Syria, in the current Afghanistan prisoner debate, focus has been put on blaming Canada and almost none on examining foreign security apparatuses. The reasons for this are a mystery.

Is it because we think Middle Eastern countries are primitive anyway and should be held to a lower standard? That's an awfully condescending view of other cultures, possibly even racist. Yet this is entirely fitting with Canadian hesitation to focus attack on Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor over any Afghanistan officials.

Perhaps it's because from a leftist viewpoint, forcing foreign governments to adhere to Western values such as human rights is also a form of imperialism. Such critics might just prefer that the Taliban continue forcing their version of Islamic rule over Afghanis (even women, homosexuals, and non-Muslims) above interfering with foreign cultures.

So, it's a mystery. Canadians are blamed for Afghan mistakes. I guess they get a free pass because they can't be expected to know better?

Stabbing Victim Gets Punished

A Halifax area high school student acting in self defence to a knife attack on Monday has been suspended. He rightly complains to that the outcome is unfair. A school policy that does not distinguish between defender and attacker, especially one with a deadly weapon, only serves to encourage learned helplessness in schools.

Who in their right mind would not defend himself or herself if lunged at with a knife? Was he to run away merely enduring the pain of being stabbed in the back until he found a Halifax West school official? This young person did the reasonable thing and it may have save him his life.

It might make sense to suspend both participants in a traditional school boy fist fight at the flag pole, but an attack with a knife is entirely different. An attacker armed with a knife against an unarmed victim usually ends with severe consequences. More so if the victim was not allowed to defend himself.

Fortunately, one student was smart enough to know he should not just stand there and be a victim of an attack. One less victim, one more empowered citizen. I suppose that's what being in the Canadian Forces Reserve taught him. The school doesn't seem to get it though. Its lesson to students is to not engage in violence, even if it means you end up dead.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Global Warming Honesty

Like many Canadians, I am prepared to give up some things for national objectives. What I want to know however, is what complying with Kyoto will do for the country.

The pro-Kyoto forces haven't been very clear. If Canada meets Kyoto, how much exactly will that limit global warming? 1 degree? 1 hundredth of a degree? This is something we deserve to know.

Otherwise, it's very hard to be a choose Kyoto over the economy. Should the government put a special carbon tax on airplane gasoline for example, I know the price I'll be paying. But I won't know what that does.

All I'm asking for is a little more honesty from the pro-Kyoto side. What will complying with Kyoto get us--especially if China and India don't do anything?

A New Government "Investment"

Another day, another corporate welfare announcement. A lumber mill in Queens County, Nova Scotia will receive a $1.5 million loan from taxpayers to expand its operations.

Governments are enthusiastic about the business of business subsidies because it makes headlines, preserves jobs, and wins votes. What they're not interested in, is sound investments.

Banks on the other hand, are interested in sound investments. If they could have lent money to this lumber company without expecting a loss at reasonable rates, they would have. They compete with their rivals to loan money to make back interest revenue, while at the same time balancing the risks of business loans.

If it were a good investment, a bank would have offered the loan. Not so the government. A $1.5 million interest free loan for business equipment is akin to giving away $300,000 (estimating a business loan rate APR of 10%).